You probably didn’t even know there was such a thing as a hipster-only bar, did you? Well, there is (sort of) and if you plan on getting in, you better grow a beard, put on some glasses and wear those checkered shirts hipsters love so much.
The Hipster Bar isn’t technically a bar, but an art project thought up by English artist Max Dovey, who created a software that relies on artificial intelligence and face recognition technology to tell hipsters apart from regular folks. He has been touring the UK for the last two years, turning regular watering holes into pop-up hipster bars by having patrons pass his hipster test in order to gain entry. According to 28-year-old Dovey, his machine will only grant you entry if you register as over 90% hipster.
“It tears up friendship groups, and tears up families,” Max Dovey said about his unique Hipster Bar. Often the dad of a family will be able to come in, and the wife and the child have to watch outside, which I’m not too happy about. There has been an issue of trying to get the software to recognise female hipsters – so I’ve had to look further for more images of women so it wasn’t a very male bar.”
The pop-up Hipster Bar has a computer at the entrance which takes photos of patrons looking to get in and compares them with thousands of photos of hipsters and non-hipsters that Dovey constantly adds to its data base. After analyzing their faces, clothing and accessories, the AI decides if the person is hipster enough to be allowed in. If they score lower than 90% hipster, they are denied entry.
“It turns out that the older gentleman has a very high success rate, women with glasses, and some stylish clothes basically. Glasses, the beard, the checked shirt, and if you’ve got a coffee cup that really helps,” the London-based artist said.
Dovey says that he started out with just 1,000 photos of hipsters and 1,000 pictures of non-hipsters, and that made it relatively easy to get into the bar, but as he added more and more pictures, the AI made it harder and harder for patrons to gain entry unless they featured some truly hispstery accessories like beards and glasses.
“I used to get into the bar quite easily, and now I find it really hard. I have to wear glasses and put on a fake beard, so I have to go in disguise,” the artist said. “The software is improving every time I do it, and I’m suddenly becoming this hipster mogul, a hipster data barren.”
But if you’re thinking that this is some way of promoting or making fun of hipsters, you couldn’t be more wrong. Max Dovey just picked a popular culture to make people ask questions about the future of technology, and humans’ reliance on it in the 21st century.
“I hope that people see how easy it is to programme a very subjective and biased piece of software, that can ascertain whether someone’s a hipster or not,” the Hipster Bar creator said. “So I hope to disprove any sort of belief that we have in software or AI when you can create an AI to determine who’s a hipster. I think it undermines the power of AI. I also hope to debunk the whole hipster mythology; if a computer can recognise a hipster then I think a hipster is definitely no longer cool.”
The Hipster Bar is currently in Salford, Manchester, but it’s constantly touring the UK.